CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have granted David Beckham permission to travel to England for Gary Neville’s testimonial match on Tuesday, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena announced after Saturday’s match.
Beckham will miss the Galaxy’s regular-season match against Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center next Wednesday, May 25, and will re-join the team in Boston ahead of the club’s match at New England on May 28.
“I do think it’s important for David to be there, given their relationship and the years they had together, those fabled years,” Arena said of the two former England internationals. “We thought it was important.”
Beckham and Neville rose through the ranks at Manchester United in the early 1990s. The two helped lead Manchester United to Premiership and Champions League titles. Off the field, the two remain close, and participating in Neville's farewell game is meaningful for Beckham.
“I played for Manchester United for over 10 years and Gary Neville was my best man and is one of my best friends,” the Galaxy midfielder said. “To be there for him and for his family is important because it was such an important era for us and for Manchester United, and if Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t have given us a chance when we were all young, we wouldn’t have been able to create what we created.”
The testimonial match, which will pit a Manchester United team against Juventus at Old Trafford, will feature other players who came up with Neville and Beckham, including Nicky Butt, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, all part of the Class of '92.
Any potential controversy over the decision should begin and end with Arena, he said.
“This decision is made on what I think is in the best interest of our team as well,” Arena said. “That decision has been made. It’s my responsibility, so if you want to throw darts, the darts should be thrown at me. I’m the person that has to accept the responsibility with that decision and I think it’s the right one to make.”
Another potential factor in the match was Beckham’s status for the match. The last time the Galaxy had a midweek match, Beckham rested as he did not travel with the club for their May 11 game at Philadelphia. Needing rest and carrying some minor injuries — most notably a thigh injury he picked up against Sporting KC on May 14 — taking time off helped Arena decide.
“I would have rested David on Wednesday, although that was not part of the decision,” Arena said. “David’s carrying an injury. Over the last three weeks or so, he’s been playing with a couple of nicks and it makes the decision easier."
However, Beckham said there were no issues and should not be any issues over his participation in this match.
“It’s special to people," he said. "It’s soccer. It’s sports. People respect that. Whoever thinks otherwise obviously doesn’t know the history of sports and the history of games. But it’s not an issue. There’s no issue with our club. There’s no issue with our manager. There’s no issue with our players. The only issue will be from people who ask questions.”